Courier sports writer
MOBERLY, MO —
Indian Hills fans have come to expect wins from the Warriors no matter the circumstances.
Tuesday’s circumstances, however, were tough for even the best of teams to overcome.
Less then 24 hours after learning they would be traveling to Moberly Area without five key players and — for the first time ever — without their head coach, third-ranked Indian Hills faced the task of winning in a place the Warriors have had trouble winning at in recent years.
Short-handed on the court and on the bench, IHCC fought valiantly but fell in the end, as the Greyhounds beat Indian Hills for the third straight time at Fitzsimmons-John Arena with an 84-64 victory on Tuesday night.
The loss snaps a season-best 12-game winning streak for IHCC. There’s no doubt the Warriors who couldn’t make the trip were definitely missed by those who suited up in maroon and gold on Tuesday.
“We’re missing some of our family, and that was certainly a loss for us,” John Wardenburg, the Warriors acting head coach for the game said. “We are a family, and to not have all those guys with us was an adjustment for us.”
In his second season as assistant coach to Barret Peery, Wardenburg was put in charge of coaching IHCC for the first time after the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference announced that Peery would be suspended for Tuesday’s game late Monday night. The ICCAC also announced that five Warrior players would be suspended for their roles in a postgame brawl that erupted following IHCC’s 104-99 double-overtime win at Southeastern on Saturday night.
Wardenburg and the short-handed Warriors had little time to adjust. The eight remaining players and three remaining coaches hit the bus without a walk-through and prepared as much as possible after arriving in Moberly late Tuesday afternoon.
“‘Next guy in’ is the term we always try to use,” Wardenburg said. “Coach Peery trusts me and trusts the whole staff. We tried to do everything the way coach would. I thought our guys did a great job in a tough environment and a tough situation.”
The lack of depth for IHCC forced the Warriors to play a slower style to conserve energy. Moberly Area instead turned the tables on the Warriors, as the Greyhounds collected 18 steals and forced IHCC into 27 turnovers, leading to several transition baskets that helped Moberly Area open up a 17-point first-half lead.
“You had guys for us that might have been playing their most extended minutes of the season,” Wardenburg said. “We just didn’t execute the way we are capable of. It’s not so much about who played, it’s about our execution as a team.”
IHCC showed tremendous heart and got big contributions from Frank Williams and Trinson White, who’s health has kept the two-year Warrior off the floor at times this season. Williams scored a team-high 17 points while White — after being held to just two first-half points — scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half with and brought IHCC back within four at 58-54 with his third 3-pointer of the night.
In the end, another player with two first-half points came alive in the second half to help Moberly Area score the victory. Mike Anderson, who was shut out from the field in the opening 20 minutes, scored 20 of his game-high 22 points after halftime and nailed a 3-pointer with just over seven minutes left to put the Greyhounds up 61-54.
That bucket started a game-clinching 13-0 run as Moberly Area quickly regained a 17-point lead IHCC had worked so hard to chip away at.
“It was right there for us. We just had a couple of untimely turnovers, didn’t get a couple of stops and that was the game,” Wardenburg said. “It’s a game of momentum, it swung right there and we were not able to get it back.”
Anderson added 11 rebounds for a double-double while also collecting five steals for the 22-7 Greyhounds. Third-ranked Indian Hills, the nation’s top offensive team, scored their lowest point total in three years on Tuesday.
“I thought for the most part we were pretty focused. We just had a couple of lapses where we might have lost that focus,” Wardenburg said. “They’re a good team. They made us pay for those lapses.”
There were positive aspects of Tuesday’s game for the third-ranked Warriors. Jameel McKay produced another double-double with 10 rebounds and 14 points, the last two of which made him the first IHCC player to go over 1,000 career points since Dwight Buycks and Dwight Hardy in 2009.
Third-ranked Indian Hills (26-3) will head back home to face Marshalltown in their final regular-season game on Saturday night at 7 p.m. The Warriors will still be without Ronald Ross, Richard Amardi, Dustin Hogue, Ronnie Stevens and Rawane Ndiaye.
“The most important game is the next one, and the next one is on Saturday,” Wardenburg said. “There’s no doubt that there were a bunch of benefits for us. I was proud of all our guys. They all learned from it and they will be better for it on Saturday.”
The Warriors will get a welcomed return to the sideline in their head coach, as Peery returns after being forced to sit out his first game as a head coach.
“He’ll be ready to go. No doubt about it,” Wardenburg said.
Moberly Area 84, No. 3 (DI) Indian Hills 64
IHCC (64) — Frank Williams 17, Jameel McKay 14, Trinson White 13, Jelan Kendrick 12, Majok Deng 6, Gary Williams, Jr. 2. Totals 25-57 9-11 64.
3-point goals — 5-16 (White 3-4). Rebounds — 41 (McKay 10). Assists — 22 (Kendrick 8). Steals — 4 (Kendrick 2). Blocks — 9 (Kendrick 3). Total fouls — 8. Turnovers — 27.
MAAC (84) — Mike Anderson 22, Brennen Hughes 16, T.J. White 15, Rayshawn Simmons 9, Evan Singletary 8, Trent Washington 8, Kevin Jordan 6. Totals 35-77 6-7 84.
3-point goals — 8-22 (Anderson 3-8). Rebounds — 37 (Anderson 11). Assists — 25 (Simmons 6, White 6). Steals — 18 (Anderson 5). Blocks — 1 (Anderson). Total fouls — 9. Turnovers — 8.
Halftime: Moberly 38, Indian Hills 30